Let me give you a bit of a back story. We came to Macon Road Baptist church in December of 2018.
It was after we experienced much devastation and betrayal at our last church of 5 years. I was hesitant to jump right in. My guard was up. I had been so hurt by our last church. It took me a full year of being in the background before I agreed to teach a women’s Sunday school class. I was hesitant but I love to teach and I needed to serve and utilize my gift. So I began teaching and the Lord began to grow my class and bring in like-minded believers. Though we always had such a comrade in my class, I was unaware of what was brewing amongst the women in other classes.
It all happened May 11, 2022. I got a call at home from my husband who says “Babe, I need to tell you something.” I could tell whatever he was about to say was going to be difficult and he was preparing me for it. Then he proceeded to tell me how a man who was on staff confided in him that his wife had been speaking with other women about me. They had various issues with me including they didn’t like my clothing, they didn’t like my Facebook posts, they didn’t think I stayed long enough after service, and they didn’t think I ministered to certain people enough during their time of need. So basically, 6-7 women had been in on it and had spoken about me in a negative light with other women in the church. Where this occurred I’m still not sure, but it seems like it happened at church which is all the more hurtful. To think about women in your congregation gathering in the bathroom with the purpose of condemning their pastor’s wife is atrocious. And then the shocker. It had all started the previous year in December. It had been going on for 6 months. 6 months these women had to come to me and tell me and 6 months they chose not to. These weren’t just women whom I had no relationship with either. These are women who have had me in their homes, I ministered to while they were suffering disease, hung out with at family gatherings and football games, rode on their pontoon boats with, were close with my kids. These were friends. Women who I trusted. The absolute shock of finding out who it was has yet to subside. I immediately texted the one who I was the closest with and said ”Have you been speaking with other women about me in a negative light? and about my clothing?” and she responded with “No, they came to me” which turned out was a lie because we found out she had indeed gone to the other women. What began that day was the start of the most hurtful events that have ever happened to me as a pastor’s wife. Hearing that I had been betrayed and that women who I thought loved me had done this was completely devastating. Nothing can prepare you for this type of betrayal.
My husband began to call all of the women whose names were mentioned to him to get their side of the story and set up a face to face meeting. It was kind of a tricky situation being my husband but also my pastor and incorporating church discipline. The first step was to confront the offenders. It became clear after speaking with some of them that there were two ring leaders. My husband set up meetings with both along with their husbands. One seemed remorseful and expressed the desire to repent for her part and the other said she would meet with me but didn’t seem to acknowledge any wrong doing. I waited to see if anyone would repent. A month went by. A month of absolute brokenness. I woke up everyday in a state of perpetual sadness. Fighting back tears as I tried to be a mom and a wife. But I was spiraling. I felt like I had brought shame to my husband’s ministry and that was never my intention. I have struggled with depression most of my adult life and this had truly triggered the worst bout of depression I had ever had. Two solid months of it. I was an emotional wreck. I was unable to teach my class or even attend church. I spent my mornings in tears over my Bible and my nights in my husband’s arms weeping. I finally decided I would pursue some type of resolution one month in. I texted the two ring leaders and one other lady and asked for their repentance and then asked for a face to face meeting. Since my husband had met with them individually already and I was under the impression they were ready to repent, I agreed to meet with the three of them at one time up at our church. Little did I know what was about to come.
On Tuesday, June 14th of 2022, one month after it happened, I arranged a meeting with the three women who were willing to meet. I spent the day in prayer but with high hopes that the women would repent and we would resolve it peacefully. I prayed that I would be gracious and the Lord would grant them repentance. I arrived that night at the church and began the meeting by opening up in prayer. Then I began addressing the topic of modesty based on the Greek meaning of the word which is used once in 1 Timothy and means ”proper for.” This was explained and I went to the Scripture for context and also explained how I was under my husband’s authority and the men (elders) in the church. All of whom have given me approval as far as my clothing and said they have never once seen me in anything inappropriate. After I finished speaking on that and went into Matthew 18 and how they had a responsibility to come to me or my husband if they had any concerns or believed I was in sin, I let them speak. It quickly became evident that they did not come there to repent. One by one, they went around scolding me and expressing distaste for certain things I have worn or things I’ve not done right as a pastor’s wife. Even lying about certain outfits and lying about my husband’s meetings with them and who had started all of this. It was attack and deflect the whole time. Not a single woman admitted she was in sin. It was clear their goal was to attack me, condemn me, attempt to discredit me. At one point, the emotions of everything finally caught up to me and I began to weep telling them how hurt and betrayed I felt and depressed I had been. One of the women looked at me and said ”We don’t care. Hush with that.” The same woman at multiple times also raised her voice and stood up, finger in my face, and said ”I will get up and leave if you don’t shut up and let me talk.” I was trying to make it clear I was leading the meeting since Im the one who called them all to repentance but she wasn’t having it. Their rage was taking over and they looked at me with absolute disdain. They couldn’t care less about how hurt I was. They came as wolves and I was their prey. When I realized their attitudes were getting more hostile by the minute, I stood up and said ”I have to go.” I got in my car and tried to leave but was crying so hard that I had to pull my car over. It took me hours to get home. My husband left immediately to go sit with the deacons and fill them in.
From there, it is all kind of a blur to me. The next few days I actually had a mental breakdown. I laid in the bed all day and cried. It seemed hopeless. I had never felt so hated by anyone. I felt actual physical pain. I was unable to eat, sleep, or take care of my household. One of the women called and had her membership removed the next day. The other ring leader’s husband was fired from his position the next day and so they were leaving. The third lady called to set up a meeting with my husband and then canceled it and we haven’t seen them since. My husband even spoke with her husband and he agreed his wife was in sin and needed to repent. Apparently she wasn’t willing. A few weeks after the meeting, the biggest shock. A man whom my husband had grown very close with over the years had turned in his keys and was stepping down from his position over the men. Turns out one of the women had been going to everyone she could in attempt to take as many with her as she could. This man didn’t even call my husband to talk to him. Just listened to the woman and my husband had to hear from someone else that he had stepped down. This crushed my husband. He said there has never been a time where he has felt so hurt or betrayed in all of his years of pastoring. The other women have all either denied it and one said ”let’s just move on” or just left the church. Not one has come to me in repentance. 12 people total have left. The last text I sent to one of the ring leaders was me pleading with her to repent of this heinous sin and that what happened to me in that meeting was atrocious. I am willing to forgive if they would repent. She responded with “Please quit texting me.” Without repentance it’s difficult to have any resolution. They all attempted to justify their gossip by saying ”we were just concerned about you and struggled with how to approach you.” So instead, they went amongst themselves speaking about me. This is clear sin. When you decide to talk about another person with others instead of going to that person directly, you are disobeying God’s clearly prescribed directions in Matthew 18. The Spirit doesn’t lead people to sin. This was gossip, slander, and stirring up division amongst the brethren in the worst way, against their own pastor and his wife.
15 “Lord, who may reside (A)in Your tent?
Who may settle on Your (B)holy hill?
2 One who (C)walks with integrity, practices righteousness,
And (D)speaks truth in his heart.
3 He (E)does not slander [a]with his tongue,
Nor (F)do evil to his neighbor,
Nor (G)bring shame on his friend;
4 A despicable person is despised in his eyes,
But he (H)honors those who fear the Lord;” Psalm 15:1-4
The pain that comes from a friend who has brought shame upon you is incredibly painful. Realizing those who you felt like were your family in Christ and have chosen to dishonor you is devastating.
“12 For it is (T)not an enemy who taunts me,
Then I could endure it;
Nor is it one who hates me who (U)has exalted himself against me,
Then I could hide myself from him.
13 But it is you, a man [h]my equal,
My (V)companion and my (W)confidant;
14 We who had sweet [i]fellowship together,
(X)Walked in the house of God among the commotion.” Psalm 55:12-14
Not only has the original sin had no repentance, the slander has carried on. The division is still happening. The lies are carrying on. Sin upon sin is being added to the first offense. I have had to work through so many thoughts in my own flesh so that bitterness does not spring up. Betrayal has many stages- Shock, anger, then sadness. You can’t make people repent, God must grant it. I don’t know what made these women turn on me but I fear it’s due to not knowing Christ. If they are born again getting so caught up in sin and refusing to repent is a dangerous place to be. Satan used them to inflict a great wound upon my husband and I and I pray there is grace for their hardened hearts. It was such a crushing blow that we considered leaving the ministry. When the ministry is chewing up your family and spitting them out something has to be done. All we did was love them faithfully with a singular goal- to teach Christ and Him crucified. I know that I did not sin against these women and my love for them was always genuine. I just thought I’d get the same in return. We decided we were making decisions from our flesh and that we could not abandon the church where the Lord placed us. We must be willing to suffer persecution.
I took a long sabbatical attempting to heal but the wounds will be forever and the damage is irreparable. I trusted those in that body to honor me, protect me, serve with me. Church was my safe place. That has been taken from me. Let this be a warning- Your words can do such great damage!
“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” James 3:5
None of these women ever used their words to edify me or build me up. Not one time did any of them approach me and say ”Lauran, we know you are a young pastor’s wife and have a huge responsibility as far as supporting your husband, teaching your Sunday school class, raising and homeschooling five children, so what can we do for you? How can we help you, serve you, pray for you?” Never was my name on their lips unless it was to condemn me. All I desired was support and prayers. I am under constant scrutiny. Demonstrate grace to me and devote yourself to prayer on our behalf. This was the absolute most hurtful, soul crushing thing that could happen to a pastor’s wife.
I have spent the last 2-3 weeks immersing myself in the Scripture and devoting myself to prayer. I was convinced the best thing to do was to begin praying for my attackers. That was a turning point for me. Letting go of my anger and trusting the Lord to deal with them and grant them repentance. Whether or not they change doesn’t matter because the Lord began to change and soften my heart through my prayers. I am still hurting. I am deeply wounded. The scars will last a lifetime. As will the scars from the previous church. Being in the ministry is the hardest job in the world. But my faith has increased. My husband and I have learned to be fully dependent upon Christ. We are seeking out godly counselors and mentors to help us and are taking some time away from the ministry during the month of August. It will be a long road of recovery ahead. I will end it with this brief exhortation-
1)Pray for those whom the Lord has placed over you in the ministry.
2) Demonstrate grace to others around you..sanctification is a process.
3) Go to a person directly if you have been hurt, have concerns, or believe them to be in sin.
4) Guard the words of your mouth. The damage cannot be undone.
5) Avoid any conversations that could lead to or cause division among the brethren.
6) Judge with righteous judgement. Don’t place your convictions regarding dress on another woman. (See my blog posts in here for my detailed blog on the topic of modesty as it pertains to Scripture)
7) Honor those who fear the Lord.
-To anyone who has messaged me to encourage me, recommend counselors, prayed for me, sent cards or gifts, you’ll never know how much that meant to me. Thank you.
In Christ, Lauran